16 surprising facts about Finland’s unorthodox education system

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SINCE IT implemented huge education reforms 40 years ago, Finland’s school system has consistently come at the top of international rankings for education systems.

So how do they do it?
It’s simple — by going against the evaluation-driven, centralised model that much of the Western world uses.
1. Finnish children don’t start school until they are 7.
2. They rarely take exams or do homework until they are well into their teens. The children are not measured at all for the first six years of their education.
3. There is only one mandatory standardised test in Finland, taken when children are 16.
4. Finland spends around 30% less per student than the US. All children, regardless of ability, are taught in the same classrooms.
5. 30% of children receive extra help during their first nine years of school.
6. 66% per cent of students go to college.
7. The difference between the weakest and strongest students is the smallest in the world.
8. 93% of Finns graduate from high school.
9. 43% of Finnish second-level students go to vocational schools.
10. Teachers only spend four hours a day in the classroom, and take two hours a week for ‘professional development’.
11. The school system is 100% state funded.
12. The national curriculum is only a broad guideline.
13. All teachers in Finland must have a master’s degree, which is fully subsidised.
14. Teachers are selected from the top 10% of graduates and their average starting salary in 2008 was $22,235. Last year, 6,600 applicants vied for 660 primary school training positions.
15. High school teachers with 15 years of experience earn 102% more than other college graduates.
16. In an international standardised measurement in 2001, Finnish children came top or very close to the top for science, reading and maths…”
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